Hello again 😊 I hope everyone is enjoying the build up to Christmas 2015! I am bringing Dylan to the Christmas Market in Galway this weekend. It will be my first time going to a Christmas market. I hope Dylan will enjoy it and it wont be too much of a sensory over load for him. I want him to be involved in the Christmas activities together as much as possible, and I am hoping it could be the start of a new Christmas tradition for us.
Christmas is an exciting time for kids, but for kids on the Autism spectrum it can be confusing and distressing with all the new activities.
I have made up a list of tips that may help you through an Autism friendly Christmas. I am still trying and testing out new ideas every year. I am happy to share my experiences so far and what works for my son.
Use a calendar/visual timetable to prepare for Christmas, highlighting any school activities such as Christmas plays/recitals or if you will be having any family or friends staying in your home for the Christmas holidays.
Make a social story book with pictures of Christmas trees, decorations, Christmas food and presents etc, to prepare them for the different changes in their routine that will be expected over the Christmas.
If you are hoping to bring your child to visit Santa and to get their photo taken. Start Showing your child Christmas story books, movies and window displays of Santa Clause, to fimilarize them with seen Santa. I have brought Dylan to see Santa every year since we moved back to Ireland, and I am yet to get a photo of him sitting on Santa’s knee smiling. They all seem to be mid running away from Santa 🙂 but this year I am hopeful…..
Try involve your child as much as possible as you can in decorating the house. So they can see the changes happening . Take them Christmas shopping for decorations with you. Let them touch and explore the decorations ( the ones that cant break too easily Let them see the tree being put up, or they might feel shocked to come home and see a tree in the sitting room!!
Consider decorating the tree gradually if your child is not liking the Christmas tree. Put the tree up in position, decorate it the next day, then put up the other decorations around the house.
Many people with autism have a strong need for routine. You could try –
- Keep the daily schedule the same as possible on the build up to Christmas. Eve/day/Stephens day.
- Try keep their morning routine, feeding routine and bedtimes routines (etc) the same.
Try get your child involved in a Christmas activity they may grow to like; such as opening the advent calendar, or as my son doesn’t like chocolate he is enjoying helping me to switch on the Christmas lights on the tree in evening.
On Christmas eve, day and Stephens day, make sure to allow some ‘Christmas free time’ to take some time to regulate their sensory needs and to just get some time to chill. I know my son will want, need and enjoy some time alone with his ipad to help him relax and to have something comforting from his every day routine. This may also help with calming any anxiety he may be feeling also.
For the past few year I have given Dylan his Christmas presents one by one on the build up to Christmas week. I found Dylan would become very over whelmed by all the Christmas presents when given to him all at once. He would become very emotional and confused by the change to his morning routine. For the past few years this has been working well, and if your child is like Dylan and does not cope well with change – try introducing his presents one by one in the week before Christmas. Ask Family members to do the same and to give Christmas presents a little earlier too.
Have the Christmas presents wrapped or not wrapped depending on what your child likes. For the past few years Dylan has not liked his presents been wrapped up but this year I think he will enjoy unwrapping them ( as along as its not characters themed wrapping paper such as minions or frozen etc as he may not want to rip the paper if he sees his favourite characters on the wrapping paper.
If you are looking to buy a chritmas present for a child on the Autism Spectrum or with learning difficulities check out Thinking toys.ie they have some great fine motor and Sensory toys
I hope you may find this helpful. I am still learning also and would love to hear any other ideas that you find works for your child. Leave your comments below or you can contact me on my email – Bigbrowsmessyhair@gmail.com
Wishing you a very merry Christmas xo
lots of love